Two weeks ago tomorrow my 17 year old daughter had a very horrible experience happen to her with the girls at church. She will be 18 mid-June and graduating late May and then going up to our cabin to work with her soon to be returned missionary brother, I will not be with them. Because of how mean the incident was she is now attending Sunday School and Relief Society with me. She has wanted to for a very long time and since I will not have that opportunity when she turns 18 we are taking advantage of it now. She is quiet and beautiful and never speaks ill of others. She lives so very close to the spirit. She has a confidence about her that all children of God should have. Her confidence and self-esteem come from within, not from without. She chooses the right without care of what others may think. It is a God-given gift that she has this confidence and surety from within. I wish all youth had this same gift. I wish the adults had it, too. I think that sometimes this confidence unnerves others who are not so self-assured.
I am working on my minor in family history through BYUI. This week I was doing some research for one of my classes. I was getting frustrated not finding records I needed for an assignment, but what I did find was a great blessing to me.
Charles Lambert was a British convert to the Church. He had been a fine stonecutter and was experienced and had moved up to being an overseer. He arrived in Nauvoo with a great talent and a desire to serve the Lord. Upon his arrival he sought out the temple and offered his services. He was told there was a great need for his trade, but the funds had long ago been exhausted and there would be no pay. He gladly accepted the job or rather service. The next day he showed up to work in his suit and silk top hat, the only work clothes he had since he had not cut stone for awhile as he had been the overseer. He quietly hung up his suit coat and top hat, put on an apron and made a makeshift cap.
What Charles didn't know was that the Americans weren't so impressed with these "dandy" men who were so formal. Whatever their motivation they began to throw granite chips at his top hat until it was shredded to pieces. At the end of the day Charles found his silk top hat and didn't say a word. He never said a thing to anyone and because of his gentle demeanor he was quickly accepted by the other men and loved.
What really struck me about this story was that these were members of the Church, temple workers, no less, who shredded his hat. Charles was pretty much destitute even though he wore fine clothes, they were all he had. Shortly after he arrived he married Mary Alice Cannon, the daughter of George Cannon and sister to George Q. Cannon. Her mother had died on their voyage to America and shortly after the martyrdom her father died of heat exhaustion looking for work in St. Louis. George Q. was living with his sister and her husband, Lenora Cannon and John Taylor. My grandmother, Anne, was living with another relative. This left 15 year old Mary Alice to care for her three younger siblings. It was at this time that the 25 year old Charles asked for her hand in marriage and offered to care for her and her three siblings as he served working on the temple. He did not have a job and they often relied on the Lord for their sustenance and the Lord provided. This destitute little family lived close to the Lord as they struggled to live the gospel. When Charles' hat was destroyed he had every right to be angry, but he wasn't.
I thought about how as members of the Church we haven't changed much in the nearly 190 years since the Church was organized. Joseph longed to raise a Zion people and was disappointed that the people weren't ready. I believe every prophet since has strived for this. The experience we had and reading Charles' story helped me realize I have a long way to go, too. I like to think that I am preparing myself, but I learned a lot about me this past week. I wondered how I would have reacted if I had been Charles. His story has been very forward in my mind all week. I am so very grateful for him recording this and his quiet example of faith. I've realized I need to record more of these kinds of experiences for my posterity and for my profit and learning. It can be used as a measuring stick to see how I am progressing.
I wish the jealousy and lashing out hadn't happened to my daughter especially unprovoked. I've learned from Charles that there really is no such thing as a 'righteous indignation' and sometimes we are wronged, it is what strips us of our pride as we willfully submit. All that matters is that we stay right with the Lord.
One last story about Charles. He and another stonecutter made a vow together that they would stay and work on the temple until it was finished. Other men were leaving the worksite to go find work as they were also desperate for money. Shortly thereafter Charles was walking down the road towards home when a man called out to him by name and then introduced himself as Higgins. He told Charles that he lived in Missouri and was in need of a stonecutter and had heard of his fine workmanship and had plenty of work with good pay, "just name your price," and he pulled out several $10 and $20 gold coins and temptingly played with them in his hand. He said Charles would be treated much better than he was on the temple project. Charles did not even think about the job and the money that his family needed. He said he had no complaints about his work at the temple and declined the offer then turned to leave. As he did so he wondered how this stranger knew his name, how to find him and how he heard of the fine work that he did. He turned around almost instantly and the man was gone "as if the earth had swallowed him up." He hadn't time to travel any distance from where they had spoken, but there was no sign he had ever been there. Until his dying day Charles swore that Satan had been the one to try to woo him away from his work on the temple. He was glad that he honored his vow and stayed true to the Lord.
So many lessons in that story, too. I am so grateful for Charles and his fine example of faithfulness and duty to the Lord. He knew in whom he could trust.